News / Asia

Female Korean Political Heir Tapped As Presidential Candidate

Former Saenuri Party leader Park Guen-hye waves to supporters during a national convention of the ruling Saenuri Party for a presidential primary in Goyang, South Korea, August 20, 2012.
Former Saenuri Party leader Park Guen-hye waves to supporters during a national convention of the ruling Saenuri Party for a presidential primary in Goyang, South Korea, August 20, 2012.
SEOUL — South Korea's governing New Frontier (Saenuri) Party has selected Park Gyeun-hye, the daughter of a former dictator, as its candidate for president. Park begins the general election campaign as the conservative front-runner but a liberal political novice may prove to be her most formidable opponent in the December national election.

The announcement Monday of the winner of the presidential primary at the New Frontier Party's convention came as little surprise.

The party's election committee chairman, Kim Soo-han, declares Park Gyeun-hye the landslide winner, calling her victory a historical moment.

For the first time a major party in South Korea has selected a woman - as well as a child of a former president - as its candidate.

In results combining ballots of party members and citizens cast Sunday)and opinion polls, Park captured 84 percent of the primary vote.

In her 15-minute acceptance speech, Park notes the country faces numerous challenges, including being affected by the global economic crisis, threats from North Korea and a territorial dispute - although she did not single out Japan.

Park says this is a time South Korea needs a prepared and stable leader to confront these critical challenges. She says she will never accept any actions that threaten the nation's security or sovereignty.

The main opposition Democratic United Party is to decide on its candidate next month from among five finalists.

The DUP's primary frontrunner is Moon Jae-in who served as chief of staff during the administration of liberal president Roh Moo-hyun in the previous decade.

But many left of center say their best chance to defeat Park lies with a popular outsider and political novice. He is a high-profile university professor who became very wealthy as a software entrepreneur.
 
Ahn Cheol-soo has not joined any political party and despite increasing hints he will run for president, Ahn has yet to make a formal declaration with just four months remaining until election day.

Many observers say if Ahn runs as an independent that would split the left-wing vote further easing Park's path to victory. But Jangan University professor Park Chang-hwan does not expect that will happen.

The political analyst predicts Ahn and the DUP will reach a consensus on a unified opposition candidate.

Park, who is 60, in 2007 lost the Grand National Party nomination to current President Lee Myung-bak. Under current law the president is limited to a single five-year term.

Park has earned the nickname “Queen of Elections” for leading election comebacks for the conservatives. Her latest accomplishment in that realm was a widely unexpected victory for the party in elections for the national assembly in April.

Despite her high profile as a politician, the electorate knows little about her private life. She has never married. Park has previously stated that with no parents, husband or children her focus is solely on serving the nation.

Political analyst Park Chang-hwan notes the governing party candidate's popularity has been stable at around 40 percent since the last presidential election.

Park says that rating is a big political asset but her base has not been expanding and she has a weakness attracting the younger generation, moderates and those living in the capital.

Candidate Park, he says, must learn to communicate better with those outside her core support group.

Her father, Park Chung-hee, became president in the early 1960's when she was a child. The daughter was thrust into the national spotlight in her early 20's when a North Korean-backed assassin killed her mother in 1974. Park was then regarded as first lady for five years.

She suffered further personal tragedy when, in 1979, the intelligence agency chief killed her father inside the presidential Blue House compound.

President Park's 18 years of authoritarian rule, backed by tough martial laws imposed after he seized power in a 1961 military coup, remains a shadow cast over his daughter's quest to win his former post.

Many in the electorate are still bitter about Park's anti-democratic legacy while others are more forgiving -- considering him a key driver of helping to turn around the economy of an impoverished country that was devastated by war.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid